Ambient noise in the environment can affect the results obtained during a hearing test. These noises can mask (cover up) the signal that you’re trying to hear. Environmental noises such as a dog barking or children playing are obviously intrusive to a hearing test, but softer sounds in the environment such as the refrigerator humming or air conditioner running can interfere with accuracy of the test results. Noise cancelling headphones could improve this issue, but at a premium.
The device you use to take the test is responsible for generating the sound delivered during testing. There are hundreds of computers and smartphones, and their capabilities vary. The frequency spectrum and/or preciseness of the frequency response may be inaccurate or limited. If the volume of the device needs to be increased significantly, this could introduce distortion into the signal.
While some of these tests don’t require the use of headphones, it is recommended. Headphones allow you to test each ear individually and help to block out unwanted ambient noise. The headphones used can also affect your test results.
Did you know that some headphones are designed to have a characteristic sound quality? There are brands or models that are designed to be bass-heavy and others that are designed with a bright treble register. These tonal qualities may be desirable when listening to music but aren’t desirable when conducting a hearing test.
Imagine testing your ability to hear high frequency sounds using headphones that purposely have a subdued high frequency response! Oy!
It’s important that they have enough output capability or headroom to deliver the test signals without altering them. Less-efficient headphones will compress the output when driven beyond their normal operating range. When this happens they are no longer functioning as a linear system. What goes in is not what comes out. So even if the incoming signal from the computer or smartphone is accurate, the headphones used may introduce distortions of their own.
There are high quality studio headphones available but the cost may be prohibitive. Further, the weight or seal of the headphones to someone’s ears affects the accuracy of the signal delivery.
If you are hoping to begin hearing better, an online hearing test will only point you in the direction of seeking out professional help but will not give you a diagnosis.
A diagnostic audiological evaluation provides information to you about the severity of your hearing loss, but also the type of hearing loss. Some hearing problems can be the result of medical conditions and may warrant medical treatment. There could also be solutions to your unique hearing problems that can be missed by lack of professional guidance.
Great hearing involves more than just an amplifying device. By identifying your unique communication needs, we can find solutions to meet them. This involves asking a variety of questions to determine what situations are most difficult for you and which ones are most important to you, and to gain an understanding of your preferences and expectations. Hearing rehabilitation could include assistive listening devices, hearing aids, communication strategies, and/or therapy. These vital components are missed in an online hearing test.